Cambridge University in the UK is in a global power group of universities backed by £60 million from BP to develop new advanced materials technology for the energy sector.Chancellor George Osborne, who revealed the move today, said the UK would be the focal point for the initiative. He said it was one of several ventures in a multi-billion dollar windfall for the UK’s energy sector – international investment that will help create hundreds of new jobs.
BP’s new International Centre for Advanced Materials (BP-ICAM) is designed to support fundamental science and the engineering application of advanced materials – those with superior qualities such as toughness, hardness, durability and elasticity for energy applications.
The University of Manchester will act as the hub of the centre, with spokes in other universities around the world that have specific areas of expertise.
At launch these are Cambridge University, Imperial College, London, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Osborne said the BP-ICAM was a long-term investment with BP committing $100m (£60m) over 10 years to the universities network.
It will create 25 new academic posts, at least 100 PhDs and 80 post-Docs, as well as maintaining the world-leading status of the UK in the research of advanced materials, the Chancellor said.
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, vice-chancellor of Manchester University said that working closely with the University of Cambridge and other spokes in the hub was great news for Britain.
She said: “This is an excellent announcement for UK science and recognises the excellence of our universities, our research and our willingness and ability to work with global industry.”
Cambridge is also benefiting from a £1.4 billion field development plan for the southern North Sea – the Cygnus project – following a deal signed by GDF SUEZ and Centrica.
AMEC, the international engineering and project management company with major operations in Cambridge, has won a £60 million detailed design contract for the development, the UK North Sea's largest gas discovery in the last 25 years.
This phase, which starts immediately, is scheduled for completion in 2014. The contract will create almost 200 new jobs at peak and will safeguard a further 160 that are already part of the team. The project will support 4,000 UK jobs overall.
In another coup for the East of England, Closed Loop Recycling, the world’s first food-grade plastic bottle recycling plant to handle both PET and HDPE bottles, has announced £12m expansion plans that will double the capacity of its Dagenham plant in Essex and create the most advanced plastics purification facility in the UK. This is expected to create and safeguard 100 jobs.
Construction is likely to start in early 2013 and when complete will divert a further 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
Closed Loop Recycling was born out of Closed Loop in Australia to replicate its recycling achievements during the ‘green’ Sydney Olympics.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, announcing the Essex investment at today’s global energy summit in London, said it was a London Olympic legacy business which had the potential to change consumer recycling habits and create hundreds of new ‘green’ jobs throughout the packaging and recycling industries.
He said: “The UK is the sixth largest market in low carbon goods and environmental services. There is a global energy revolution underway and the UK is not going to be left behind. In fact we are leading from the front and together find ourselves in the vanguard of one of the most dynamic, innovative and important industries of our time.”
The hope is that renewable energy will deliver between 30 and 45 per cent of the UK’s energy by 2030. The energy industry contributes just under four per cent of the UK’s GDP and employs around 173,000 people – seven per cent of industrial employment. It accounts for almost 10 per cent of total investment in the UK.